The Work is Not Over – Gay Rights

The arch of history is long, and bends towards justice

Batman (formerly Triple Threat, formerly Teddy, formerly Laura, formerly Batman, now Batman again thankfully) was the first to tell me in a text moments after the decision.  But despite being in the middle of nowhere, various media and even people i did not know spent energy getting me this message of this significant political advancement in the US.

Mass protest was part of the strategy

Mass protest was part of the strategy

There are lots of important takeaways from this win.  First it is important to look at how far we have come, and how fast.  Less than two decades ago, arguably progressive (on social issues) president Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was basically the opposite of the current supreme court ruling, prohibiting the federal government from recognizing gay marriages.  This was a popular move in 1996.  What happened?

The arch of history is long, and bends towards justice

The arch of history is long, and bends towards justice

Certainly, demographics is one factor.  A bunch of closed minded anti-marriage-equality folks have died off in the last 20 years.  More importantly, many kids have grown up seeing that their gay uncle or lesbian guidance counselor is cool and worthy of legal protection.  But remember that social conservatives dominate both houses of congress and the current supreme court.  We did not age our way into this significant change.

The work is not yet done

The work is not yet done

At the front of the list of who gets credit for this change is the gay community itself, which prioritized same-sex marriage as an issue, deemed it winnable, and ran endless legal challenges and referenda to secure this right.  They put out a simple, understandable message (“I should get to marry the person I love”) and kept repeating it until people got it. It also helped that after Massachusetts allowed gay marriage in 2004, absolutely nothing happened.  (Except that the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1918.)  It became harder to pretend that same-sex marriage would result in increased divorces, etc.

Second in my analysis is that the mainstream media (MSM), who generally don’t get credit for doing much right in my book, actually came around on this issue.

I’ve written about how MTV was central in shifting young people’s thinking on gay rights in eastern Europe.  And despite Fox News’ endless pandering to the Religious Right’s bigoted refusal to accept marriage equality, basically the rest of the MSM began more favorable coverage of the issue.  This is partially about the way they covered the news, but it is more about the stories which got told in various TV shows which then influenced viewers’ thinking.  The villainized gay character depictions have significantly diminished in the last couple of decades and have been replaced by cooler gay characters or at least ones that straight viewers can relate to.  My son, Willow, watches the television show Modern Family in which a gay couple gets married and adopts an Asian daughter and raises her.  This is the new normal.  The idea that gay people should be denied rights because of religious works from 2,000 years ago is as stupid as 8 track tapes.   Why would you want to do that?

Television defines what is normal

Television defines what is normal

It is also important to point out that this decision barely passed.  Supreme Court Justice Scalia had a number of epic stupid things to say about the decision he opposed.

“Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.”

Conservative Judge Kennedy voted in favor of the decision largely because of the thousands of children across the country who’s parents were not legally allowed to get married under existing prohibitions.  This single conservative defection enabled the court to do the right thing in its 5-4 split decision.

The good news is that their ideological blindness will likely once again bite the Republicans in the hind quarters.  Immediately after the decision, GOP Presidential hopefuls started coming out against the ruling.  Scott Walker, showing is detachment from the national reality is echoing the 2012 GOP platform in calling for a Constitutional amendment to block same sex marriages.  This strikes me as a special form of political suicide.  Former Pennsylvania senator (and GOP presidential candidate) Rick Santorum said: “Today, 5 unelected judges redefined the foundational unit of society. Now it is the people’s turn to speak.”  Clearly Santorum has no ability to read polls. The people have spoken; the judges are simply parroting them.

And as pointed out in the two rings graphic above, there is still tremendous work to do in changing unjust laws across the country.  So let’s celebrate this important win and let’s keep organizing.

You are a Cult, Right?

As i was going through the endless array of stupid comments in the recent Yahoo Parenting article on Twin Oaks, i found myself wanting a good summary of why Twin Oaks (and other secular and especially egalitarian communities) are not cults.  Fortunately, these communities have designed themselves to make this easy.

Let’s hop in our time machine for a moment. It is 1967 and the original 8 founders of Twin Oaks are looking at the principals and cultural norms around which they will form the community where they want to live.  Reverend Moon had just visited the US and set up holy grounds in the 48 contiguous states.  The FDA had just raided Scientology offices and seized illegal medical equipment, and the religion was being banned in Australia and other places.  And the Church of Satan was performing it’s first recorded baptism.

23 May 1967, San Francisco, California, USA --- Original caption:

Satanic Baptism – 1967

The intentional communities movement wanted to distance itself from these kinds of organizations, so it looked at the behaviors which typified cults and set out to make themselves different in as many ways as possible. The 4 things which typify a cult are:

  1. It has a living charismatic leader
  2. You give them all your money
  3. You are kept away from your old friends and family
  4. You can’t leave when you might like

Cults are also exclusive, often highly secret and universally authoritarian. Let’s take a quick look at these components.

Living Charismatic Leader:  Twin Oaks has a complex internal decision making system.  Specifically, we have 3 or more planners who serve 18 month terms but can not serve consecutive terms.  Over the last 18 years i have been at Twin Oaks, the problem is not having people want to do consecutive plannerships, the problem is getting people to complete their terms – recently several planners have quit this generally thankless job.   Holding onto leaders in an egalitarian community is hard, because they get extra headaches without the extra perks.  Plus at Twin Oaks  we have a distrust of people in leadership roles and they often get extra flack for this reason.  We would appear to fail the charismatic leader cult test.

Cult of personality?

Cult of personality?

Give up your assets:  This one is understandably complex, because the difference between income sharing and asset sharing is often confused.  When you join Twin Oaks, we ask you not to touch your pre-existing assets, if you have any, for the duration of your membership.  This does not mean we ask you to give them to the community.  If you want you can lend them to the community, and when you leave you get them back.  Without interest.  The interest is income.  Because the community pays for everything when you live there, food, clothing, medical, housing, entertainment, taxes, dentist, etc we ask that any income your assets earn (including Social Security and pension income – excluding 401K interest, which you can’t get at) be given to the community.   This feels fair to us.  We also don’t take your debts if you arrive with debts.  Most cults require you give everything over.  Some (like Scientology – which fails the living leader test) require you to pay for expensive classes and encourages significant donations to the community.  Members are not encouraged to make donations to Twin Oaks of pre-existing assets nor do we charge our members for anything.

We provide everything you need

We provide everything you need.

Isolation:  Bring your friends and family to the commune, by all means.  They can stay for free and the host determines what work, if any, is appropriate for them to do (if you are going to stay for a while we would like you to work quota).  It is true there are people who live at Twin Oaks who rarely leave the farm.  But we design our selection process so that it pushes you back into the arms of those who care about you, before you come to join.  At the end of your visitor period at both Twin Oaks and Acorn you must leave, even if everyone thinks you are great and you should stay forever.  After you have been home for 10 days you find out if we have accepted you and then (at TO at least) you have to wait another 3 weeks before you can come.  My joke is if your friends and family can’t convince you not to join this hippie commune in 3 weeks, then you are free to come.

“You don’t need to go anywhere.  Everything you want is right here”

No Exit:  I dislike grumpy communards.  I really dislike communards who are grumpy about the community that they are living in.  I want these people (after making a good faith effort to fix their situation) to leave.  Every one of them represents a misallocated space, because there is someone on the waiting list who wants to take that person’s place and really wants to live with us.  Again we have had waiting list for years.

Exclusive:  One of Twin Oaks and Acorns missions is to be a model.  To be a model you have to be open to outside guests – friends, media, academics, curious travelers and more.  Cults won’t let you inside, and while it is wrong to say our doors are always open to anyone, if you ask in advance and come to any of the Saturday Tours or 3 Week visitor periods you can see pretty clearly what we look like.

Secretive:  Similarly, models can’t be secrets.

Tell no one

Tell no one

Authoritarian:  This seemed to be where many readers of the Yahoo article got hung up.  The assumption seemed to be that, if there were a self selecting group which was not following the roles of the mainstream, then there had to be an authoritarian oppressive structure.

Look, these communities are filled with anarchists.  We are not going to work if the structure is authoritarian.  We want to do better than majority voting.  All the egalitarian communities require democratic decision making systems, at least voting, ideally consensus.  This does not absolutely insure authoritarian structures will not emerge, but consensus is one of the best ways to maximize the power individuals have over oppression by a group.

Thus by any of the standard criteria for determine cult status, we fail.  But you dont need to believe me, come visit and see for yourself.  Call 540-894-5126 and arrange a Saturday tour.

Turkey Point > Small Reactors – Going where the fight is

I track the nuclear reactor news; it’s an old habit that i can’t seem to kick.

There is a lot of digital ink spent on small modular reactors (SMRs).  Bill Gates is funding them! Department of Energy has millions for research for SMRs! Virginia will lead the Renaissance with SMRs.  This must be a happening thing right?
Bill Gates

Actually, it is not.  If you care about the future of clean energy in this country, you are not going to put in a bunch of time fighting Small Reactors.  That fight is over.  The nuke boosters lost again.  Same old reason, nuclear power (especially from inefficient sized reactors) is crazy expensive and the market will select anything else that is cheaper, or in some cases no carbon foot print and cheaper.

Shouldn’t we do more research?  Well, the Navy has for 60 years and can’t get small (non-modular) reactor costs down to anything reasonable in either aircraft carriers or submarines.  They do them anyway, because these are cost plus rather than market driven projects, but don’t look for cities or utilities, which have to watch bottom lines, to follow the military in energy investment strategy.

We can just build them like this and pay 10X the market rate

We can just build them like this and pay 10X the market rate

If over half a century of well funded research and significant motivation on the part of the military does not convince you that economical SMRs are not imminent, then let me up the ante.  Westinghouse Nuclear, the largest nuclear construction company in the US, has dropped SMRs. This means the second best nuclear marketing team in the world thinks they can’t sell these.  

All five reactors under construction in the US currently are Westinghouse designs.  Westinghouse’s reason for ditching SMRs, “There are no customers”

 

To be clear, just because these reactors that make no economic sense will not stop a few of them from being built.  But there will be no commercial contracts for these reactors, no orders from other countries, no merchant reactors operating in the US.  In terms of the dangerous part of the fight, this is not where the action is.

nuclear_hazardous_investment

The fight that matters and that we totally can win is the campaign against new reactors in the US.  And there are proposals for new ones, especially Turkey Point blocks 6 and 7.  Below is a letter i wrote to a Florida green group on the topic:

I am interested in working with you providing information and strategy suggestions for the campaign to block the Blocks 6 and 7 at Turkey Point.

First the good news (for fighting TP6&7, not for the citizens of FL or the environment):

These reactors are early in their licensing stage, so there is plenty of time to slow down/bog down the approval process and or kill the proposal outright. Specifically, we have until July 17 to get comments into the NRC.

The reactors use a tremendous amount of water in an area which likely can’t handle it, even if local sewage treatment water is heavily used.  The existing reactors are not able to stay cool despite huge quantities of water being used.

The site is located both near parks and at a very low water level that will flood in the event of hurricanes and otherwise rising waters.

The key is cheap, reliable storage - Tesla Utility Scale Batteries

The key is cheap, reliable storage – Tesla Utility Scale Batteries

Solar PV augmented with new Tesla Electric utility scale batteries trumps TP6&7 financially today.  And the longer we drag out the discussion, the more true this becomes. The most recently ordered (but not yet confirmed) nuclear reactor, Hinkley 3, is more expensive than either Solar PV or onshore wind in the UK, twice as much.

All of the 5 reactors under construction in the US are both late and over-budget.  As has been every other reactor built in the US of the last 70 reactors in a row. FLP will almost certainly blow its proposed budget for this pair of new reactors.

Now the bad news:

Florida has Construction Work in Process (CWIP) which allow utilities to charge rate payers for expensive project failures.  This was central to the new reactor in SC and Georgia being approved, when they can not get similar projects thru in states without CWIP.

The nuclear utility has tremendous political power and are generally able to get both the FL Public Utility Commission and the FL State Legislature to give them everything they want.    This said, it is still worth talking with state activists to see if there had ever been a successful campaign to lobby the PUC.  Certainly, loud enough campaigning can influence the legislature, though they are screamed at with some regularity and bought off far more often.  The nuclear utilities in Florida have made a most fascinating argument against solar power: it helps rich people get richer.  Because of the high up front costs of roof top solar PV, only rich people can afford it, so, since we want a grid funded by everyone, the rich should be prohibited from profiting from their capital and everyone should pay for the grid. To be clear, the reason utilities build nuclear power plants is that they have a bunch of money (or credit) now and want to buy this incredibly expensive thing, that only they can buy and then make lots of money off (by not paying for waste, insurance, terrorist risks, etc).   So the incredibly rich FL utilities have convinced the sunshine state that solar power is bad here, because it will give the rich more money.

Instead of Reactors, let's do this in the Sunshine State.

Instead of Reactors, let’s do this in the Sunshine State.

The Solutions Project has 50 plans, one for each state, on how to get to 100% renewable energy in the US by 2050.  Not one plan uses nuclear reactors.

East Greets West: A tale of two conferences

I do like the phone. telefon-table surreal Most recently i have been calling communities about coming to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference this Labor Day weekend.  It is early enough in the year that we get to brainstorm all manner of possibilities.  What workshops they might do in the open space technology section?  Who they might be able to bring with them?  What kinds of ride sharing is possible?  Labor Day is far enough away that people don’t have things scheduled and are willing to consider this, especially the highest ranked communities which i am calling, many of whom are predisposed to coming out again or checking it out.

Twin Oaks Communities Conference 2013

Twin Oaks Communities Conference 2013

The Twin Oaks Communities Conference runs a bit like a well oiled machine.  We have been literally doing it for decades.  We have notebooks which reminds us when to do everything and google drive docs which chronicle many previous schemes and name all the tasks and past volunteers who have made this complex event happen.  This year we are putting out the call for presenters quite early.  This is not to say that the Communities Conference doesn’t need good organizers.  Despite being well understood, there is always something which tests us in putting it on. Transformative movements can’t be content to keep doing what they already do well, we need to expand and touch the lives of more people.  And so i was extremely happy when the fine folks at Groundswell Institute agreed to host the West Coast Communities Conference.

Groundswell-header-image-v7

Images of Groundswell Institute

Groundswell is a new community, two hours north of San Francisco and founded by radical queer friends of ours, some of whom are ex-Oakers.  Groundswell is interested in growing to about 15 people in the next year from the handful they have now.  When i asked what type of people they were searching for, there was a short but comprehensive consultation amongst the members present. “Non-heteronormative” was the response (more on this soon).

The physical plant of Groundswell in impressive. It is an ecovillage on over 180 acres of land (with all human activity concentrated on 40 acres).  It is a former campsite which can sleep 80 people indoors in cabins. It has a full sized institutional kitchen, pond, amphitheater, dance hall and some amazing trees.

How amazing you ask?  Well if you read this blog you know my dear friend Shal is very into trees.  We climb them regularly.  Shal and i visited Groundswell together last year.  When we were on our way, Shal was concerned that this visit to my friends would delay our visiting the big trees of California that he had heard so much about.  He was not expecting to be impressed with the trees at Groundswell.  We arrived there at night, and after being welcomed with conversation and good food, made our way in the dark to one of the many cozy cabins.

In the morning when Shal came out of the cabin to go to the main house, he stopped in his tracks as he saw the view and the trees.  Fortunately breakfast was going to be available for a while, so he could afford to give in to the powerful urge to gaze at the amazing view of Groundswell and the valley and hills beyond.   And he saw beautiful trees!    They were more human scale than the giant redwoods, but the closest one was magnificent, reaching out as well as up, with big mossy branches at chest level, easy to touch and climb on, which he did.  ​And when he moved on to the main house for breakfast, he found that also had a very impressive view.

IMG_0502

Later Kyle took us on a tour of Groundswell, and Shal spent much of the time looking at the views and trees, including spending some time at the Grandfather tree at the top of the hill, from which there is a grand full circle view of the beautiful hills valleys and hills surrounding Groundswell.

Kyle at Work

Kyle at Work

Groundswell has put out the call for presenters to this event.  There will be Open Space Technology at WCCC, just like there is at Twin Oaks Communities Conference, which is an appropriate place for content which might be your expertise, but is not specifically related to community life (permaculture, renewable energy, anti-oppression work, polyamory workshops, etc).  Topics appropriate for scheduled portion of the program are listed below, as distinct from the Open Space section. There will also be a number of workshops on topics directly related to community living which will be presented. There is a list of these topics below. Think about your west Coast and especially Bay Area friends and let them know this is happening. Tickets (including one day passes) are available here.

Call for Presenters Living as Community: West Coast Communities Conference,  October 9 – 12, 2015, Groundswell Community & Institute, Yorkville, CA  (2 hours north of bay area)

Groundswell, an emerging ecovillage and retreat center, is proud to announce a new West Coast Communities Conference. Organized with sponsorship from the Fellowship for Intentional Communities (FIC) and the Federation of Egalitarian Communes (FEC), the main goal of this conference is to provide opportunities for networking and skill building for people involved with the communities movement.  Those who already have experience with community will be able to share and increase their skills, while those who may be new to the movement will learn a wide range of models and practices that others have used in starting and sustaining successful communities. We are hoping to have a wide range of community movers and shakers to present workshops, dialogues, and demonstrations.  Anyone with interest or experience in worker cooperatives, rural communes, artist collectives, or any other kind of communal enterprise is invited to participate. We encourage people to be creative in the matter and manner of these presentations and ask only that they hold some relation to intentional community. Some possible topics include (but aren’t limited to):

  •   different approaches to creating communities
  •   membership and financing
  •   sustainable building and living practices
  •   social and organizational skills
  •   decision-making, consensus, and practices of inclusivity
  •   diverse communities and diversity within communities
  •   communications and group process
  •   conflict resolution
  •   resource management
  •   models and sources for community building
  •   visions and charters

In addition, the organizing team is still looking for help with logistics both before and during the conference. If you are interested in being involved in that way, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. To propose a presentation, get involved in other ways, or for more information, please contact:
Kevin “Faire” Faircloth, Project Coordinator, faire@groundswell.institute 714-342-0809

Kyle is organizing the Meet the Communities” so if you are in part of a place based community which wants to present please contact him at kyle@groundswell.institute

Special Communities Salon: On Saturday of the conference, representatives of different communities will have the opportunity to introduce themselves through short presentations to the attendees.  In addition, communities are invited to bring tabletop displays to help show off their home. This is a great opportunity for communities to meet potential new members and vice versa.  Please contact assistant organizer Faire at faire@groundswell.institute

Sexually Transmitted Responsibility

Transmission of Responsibility

Transmission of Responsibility

It was a great meeting.  Port was facilitating, and he was afraid of the meta-discussion on the topic of what Acorn thinks its labor is about/for.    He had been afraid that this digression would lead us to a world of complaining and depressed talk.  But it is hard to restrain the hippies, especially when it comes to meta-discussions.

And a funny thing happened on the way to reviewing our labor situation.   People did not think huge changes were needed and many of the suggestions (like doing our clearnesses on time and using existing structures to solve problems) felt genuinely helpful.    The group identified the individuals who felt overworked and overwhelmed.  [This did not include Ira and me, who only know how to function if we are overworked – by things we are excited about doing.]

Then Jayne spoke:

 I agree that the measure of the labor system should be how happy are we?  It sounds like people feel they live interesting, enriching, and productive lives.  Going around, I do catch a common frustration that it is too difficult to pass on a job you’d like to be done with.  I think about this thing Nightshade said three months into my membership: “If you want to get involved in a labor area at Acorn, just sleep with the person who’s already doing it.”  It’s sort of horrifying how often this is kind of true.  Aside from sleeping with them, how can you learn to pass responsibility to new people?

In community responsibility is communicable

In community responsibility is sexually communicable

This brought on a whole raft of jokes about Sexually Transmitted Responsibility and it quickly became clear that Jayne was right.  All manner of lovers had dragged their partners into work areas which needed help.  Many intimates had decided one of the better ways to spend time together was to share the tasks that the community needs to function.

Acorn functions as an Adhocracy (a flexible, adaptable and informal form of organization that is defined by a lack of formal structure. It operates in an opposite fashion to a bureaucracy).  When we need something done, we form a group of volunteers to do it and give them significant power at least of analysis and often of decision making and purse strings.  When your intimate joins one of these temporary groups, you are often enticed to be part as well.

Can we value creativity and flexibility over structure and efficiency?

Can we value creativity and flexibility over structure and efficiency?

Momentarily Viral – Don’t read the Comments

I wrote yesterday about the recent Yahoo Parenting article about the community.  Turns out this piece had over 3 million hits in the first 24 hours.   This generated so much traffic to the Twinoaks.org website that our web host server crashed. Even my blog, which is not mentioned in the article at all, got over 1000 hits in two days.

Does this hype actually go anywhere?

Does this hype actually go anywhere?

And the media contacted us also.  We got three requests from conventional news sources (including my first ever request for an exclusive) and two excited reality show producers.  We have considered working with Reality TV as an income engine for new community start ups and i floated it by the Point A DC folks, who rejected it overwhelmingly. This did not stop there being animated discussion about the possibility at Acorn last night at dinner.  The chances we will be able to work with reality TV are vanishingly small.

There were over 500 comments to the Yahoo article.  There were quite a few positive ones, some from people who had lived in community which worked for them or they appreciated, some from folks who had visited us at some point and felt the need to dispel the false statements which were being made.  But perhaps half the comments on this Yahoo article were negative or critical.  They came in a few flavors:

Communism is Bad:  My favorite of this ilk was “Why hasn’t someone called the National Guard to rid us of these communists?”  Unlike past articles i have read, there were not any direct “Go back to Russia!” suggestions.  Many came from Libertarians who feel a need to attack anything which does not look like their version of free market capitalism. Libertarianism Cartoon There was our personal chapter of the endless Tea Party debates in which all ills are blamed on Obama and each of the two main political parties are attacked for the Democrats being Communists and the Republicans (in the long run) being anarchists.  News flash folks, there are two pro-business parties in the US.  Look at who funds their campaigns. There are also a whole slew of comments contenting that we 1) Don’t pay taxes.  In fact we are the second largest tax payer in the county. 2) Are on Food Stamps and Welfare. In fact none of the membership uses these government assistance programs.

Polyamory is wrong: There was the expected amount of slut shaming and name calling. I should not have been surprised at the frequently expressed concern that pedophiles would have easy access to our kids, when in fact the opposite is the case. polyamory_is_wrongThere were a refreshing number of people who felt like this was an acceptable choice, only not right for them personally.  For many critics this simply feed their notion of moral decay on the commune.  There was a prevalent opinion that this reflected an easy way to have lots of sex partners, when actually the form of polyamory most often practiced in the communities requires lots of discussion, negotiations and process.

Too often too true

Too often too true

This can never work:  Despite the article mentioning that we had been around for nearly 50 years, there were a surprising number of comments predicting our imminent demise or our failure in the long term.  I chalk this up to people not wanting the story to be true, so they lash out against it in ways that don’t make much sense.  Because the article was focused on parenting and not pension, there were many comments about what happens when people reach retirement age.  In fact our pension program is far more robust than the default one in the mainstream.

Applying for Pregnancy !?!?! It is true this is very odd and i totally get why this flips people out.  And when you read why we do it, it will make a whole lot more sense to you.  This linked article also has the bonus section that it includes the only (to my knowledge) exhaustive list of Twin Oaks prohibitions.

Eeww you have Lice!:  Apparently, only the community suffers from lice.  Every couple of years we have a lice outbreak.  We fight some, internally, about the use of chemicals to push it back.  We clean a ton of laundry, some people dramatically shave their heads to avoid having to treat or retreat.  Frankly, they are more psychologically problematic than actually physically problematic, but try telling that to someone who is freaking out.

One way to solve the problem

One way to solve the problem

While i had a good time going thru the comments and correcting people misconceptions and laughing about the haters, i counseled everyone who was actually in the article not to read the comments.    They don’t yet show the thoughtful dialog we would hope to find on the digital pages of the internet.

What the article did not mention is that:

1) Twin Oaks has had a waiting list for more than 7 years now.  So if you are in a rush to find a new place, we are a poor choice.

2) It is far harder for families to become members than individuals.  In the last 10 years there has only been three families accepted (and perhaps a dozen who have tried to come).  The visitor period is longer, the waiting list is tougher and every member of the family must be accepted or none of them can come.

Parenting in Community – It takes a Village

Presidential candidate and corporate crony Hillary Clinton wrote a book some years ago called “It Takes A Village“.  The central thesis of the book is that the lives of individuals outside the immediate family are tremendously influential on kids.  And while i disagree with Hillary on everything from drones to the Iraq war, this is one place we agree.  [Though i would point out Chelsea does not have a village, she has a security detail.  My son Willow has a village.]

Anya and Summer - photo credit Yahoo News

Anya and Summer – photo credit Yahoo News

willow-on-head-w-phone

Willow at Climate Change Action – Photo Credit Caroline Morningstar

Yahoo News came through here and wrote a fine piece about parenting in the community which has just been published.  The community has a quite mixed relationship with the press, and this mostly positive article strikes a good balance of the problems with the parenting program and the advantages.  The article outed the community as being mostly polyamorous and the liberal author apparently got that this is not a detriment to the kids.  In fact, it is a boon.  What is really true is that Twin Oaks is an “embrace diversity” community, which means we don’t tell our members what to do in terms of diet, spirituality, relationship models, smoking, really anything. The article also inspired a number of inquiries to the community through our Facebook page, which of course is the wrong way to get in touch with us (write twinoaks@ic.org or better yet, read the webpage about the community before you ask any questions). We don’t have all the answers about parenting at the communes.  But what is clear to me is our kids are happier, better adjusted, more curious and more self aware than the kids i bump into in the mainstream, on average.  Turns out villages are important.

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